Postretinal structure and function in severe congenital photoreceptor blindness caused by mutations in the GUCY2D gene

Geoffrey K. Aguirre, Omar H. Butt, Ritobrato Datta, Alejandro J. Roman, Alexander Sumaroka, Sharon B. Schwartz, Artur V. Cideciyan, Samuel G. Jacobson

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13 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To examine how severe congenital blindness resulting from mutations of the GUCY2D gene alters brain structure and function, and to relate these findings to the notable preservation of retinal architecture in this form of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). METHODS. Six GUCY2D-LCA patients (ages 20-46) were studied with optical coherence tomography of the retina and multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. Measurements from this group were compared to those obtained from populations of normally sighted controls and people with congenital blindness of a variety of causes. RESULTS. Patients with GUCY2D-LCA had preservation of the photoreceptors, ganglion cells, and nerve fiber layer. Despite this, visual function in these patients ranged from 20/160 acuity to no light perception, and functional MRI responses to light stimulation were attenuated and restricted. This severe visual impairment was reflected in substantial thickening of the gray matter layer of area V1, accompanied by an alteration of resting-state correlations within the occipital lobe, similar to a comparison group of congenitally blind people with structural damage to the retina. In contrast to the comparison blind population, however, the GUCY2D-LCA group had preservation of the size of the optic chiasm, and the fractional anisotropy of the optic radiations as measured with diffusion tensor imaging was also normal. CONCLUSIONS. These results identify dissociable effects of blindness upon the visual pathway. Further, the relatively intact postgeniculate white matter pathway in GUCY2D-LCA is encouraging for the prospect of recovery of visual function with gene augmentation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-973
Number of pages15
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017


  • Functional imaging
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Visual cortex


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